Since my late teens, there has been a guitar that lives rent-free in my head. It is Eric Clapton’s famous “Blackie” Fender Stratocaster. It’s the one on the cover of the Live at Budokan album, and is the stuff of legend. Many guitars have captured my imagination over the years, but Blackie was my first crush.
From 2022, as I started learning and playing more blues material with Blue On Black I was leaning more into Strat-style tones, and using my single coil pickups more often than not.
Enter Perry Ormsby.
The backstory to the creation and delivery of this guitar is the stuff of a whole separate and future post, but suffice it for now to say I was surprised at a gig after Perry was made aware of the situation by a certain wife who shall remain nameless. For now. cough
While not a replica, Perry has taken an Ormsby SX body shape and a GG neck and infused it with the spirit and feel of a blues workhorse. Because it isn’t a signature series or production guitar, it was never given an official designation, so the ID scribbled on the headstock during construction has remained. Unofficially, it’s the GG Blackie.
The alder body is a standard SX body shape with rounded edges – “Strat rounding”, Perry called it – giving it a softer, more classic profile. The classic look is enhanced by an amazing black relic nitrocellulose finish, complete with checking and buckle rash. The bridge is a Gotoh standard Strat style trem with all 5 springs in the back, all given the same relic treatment.
The four-bolt roasted Maple neck and fretboard with stainless frets is a work of classic art. The fretboard has a slight camber, giving it a beautifully authentic feel. The relic job on this neck is simply awesome. Firstly, it feels like a ‘57 neck that’s been seriously played in. I took it onstage after a couple of licks to check the tuning, and it was so comfortable that I forgot all about the fact that this was an entirely new instrument I was playing. Cosmetically, the wear on the neck and fingerboard look as natural as they feel, and the checking and cigarette burns on the headstock are a brilliant touch that gave me a giggle. The aged Kluson tuners and bone nut hold tune really well, even with a bit of subtle whammy action, and the three Ormsby Old School+ pickups deliver all the right tones with surprisingly little noise. Owing to the smaller body size, there are just two controls – a master volume, and a tone knob that controls the middle and neck pickups. I liked that touch, Pez.
I’ve spent a couple of weeks at home plugged into my Fender Blues Junior IV and pulling some de luxe blues tones, confirming that this was everything I could have wanted in a guitar I was going to spend a lot of time with, playing the blues. In rehearsal, the guitar roars through the RectoVerb 25, handling everything from blues ballads to full-on saturation with clarity and articulation. I now have an expanded palette of sounds I can obtain, and it’s going to be a fun and satisfying journey of discovery with my new travelling companion!